Hilliard has taken the next step in the transition to a city-manager form of government upon the hiring of Novak Consulting Group to assist with a search for candidates.

Communications director David Ball announced the firm’s hiring March 7.

The search will begin this month, Hilliard City Council President Kelly McGivern said.

City Council was not required to approve the contract by vote during a meeting because the contact amount is less than $50,000, Ball said.

In 2013, City Council approved an ordinance that allowed city officials to execute contracts of less than $50,000 without council approval, he said.

The city’s contract with Novak Consulting Group is not to exceed $24,500, plus expenses, Ball said.

The funds are included in the city’s operating budget, McGivern said.

A subcommittee was formed earlier this year to identify a consultant to assist City Council with its search for a city manager, McGivern said.

Council members on the subcommittee were McGivern, Pete Marsh and Andy Teater.

The subcommittee also included council clerk Lynne Fasone, human-resources director Julia Baxter and Ball.

The latter three served in a support and advisory role, Ball said.

Staff members from the finance, legal and human-resources departments executed the contract, he said.

McGivern called Novak Consulting Group a “highly regarded executive search firm that has helped (many) cities identify and hire city managers.”

Novak Consulting Group was founded in 2009 when Julia Novak acquired Public Management Partners, according to Ball.

“Having the assistance of a firm such as Novak will ensure the person selected for this position is able to help our community make the transition as smooth as possible,” McGivern said.

In November, Hilliard voters approved a charter amendment, Issue 33, to change the city’s government model from a strong mayor to a city manager.

The transition to a city manager is official Jan. 1, according to the charter amendment.

In a city-manager form of government, City Council selects a city manager who serves at its pleasure, but usually by contract. The manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the city.

The search firm will begin by developing “a profile of the ideal candidate,” McGivern said.

“Novak Consulting will meet with City Council, staff members and key stakeholders to identify desired traits and experiences for the position,” she said.

With that information, a job description and recruitment profile will be developed, McGivern said. That will be followed by cultivating a list of candidates, she said.

A final selection is expected in the fall, according to Ball.

Council members have indicated the city manager might be brought on board in a transitional period late this year to meet with Mayor Don Schonhardt, who is in the final year of his fourth term as mayor.

“Changing our form of municipal government is a significant step for our community. ... We know how important it is to hire the right person for the position,” McGivern said.